By Antonio Colina IV
DAVAO CITY – After 12 days, the remains of Alexandra Moreno, the last of the 38 workers trapped inside the gutted four-storey NCCC Mall Davao, was finally recovered by authorities on Thursday.
The fire that struck the 14-year old, four-storey NCCC Mall Davao on December 23, 2017 took more than a day for firefighters to put out. The remains of the 36 workers were found at the lobby on December 25, while that of the 37th victim was recovered inside the comfort room of the Survey Sampling Internationa (SSI) facility on December 24.
Interagency Anti-Arson Task Force deputy team leader and spokesperson Fire Supt. Jerry Candido said the authorities found “significant remains” that they suspected were Moreno’s after re-inspecting the fourth floor where SSI had been operating.
He added the remains were stuck in a crevice on the floor, which might be the reason why they failed to locate the body earlier.
Candido said Moreno’s mother confirmed the identity of the body after they presented some of the items recovered from the victim such as a key chain with a miniature Volkswagen, and a bag containing a passport and burned eyeglasses.
Candido said the NCCC Mall Davao and Survey Sampling International (SSI) failed to comply with the fire safety requirements, which led to the death of 38 trapped workers.
This was contrary to the earlier claims of Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) Davao fire marshal Honey Fritz Alagano during the AFP-PNP press conference last December 28 that the NCCC Mall Davao and SSI managements were issued with fire safety inspection certificates (FSIC) last April 2017 and September 2017, respectively, after they passed the annual fire safety inspection.
Candido said that the establishments did not comply with the fire suppression requirement after they found lapses in the setup of the mall’s fire alarm, sprinkler system, and fire exits during their investigation last week.
The fire was caused by an electrical short circuit at the ceiling of the third floor, he said.
The SSI occupied the entire 4,000-sq. m. space on the fourth floor that was also accredited by Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).
Candido said the task force found out that sprinkler system of the third and fourth floors did not work while the alarm system of the mall was not interconnected with SSI’s, he said.
He said that the sprinkler system’s control valve on the third floor had no sprinkler head while the fourth floor’s was intact but installed outside the facility of the Survey Sampling International (SSI) when it should have been installed inside the facility.
Candido said the floor control valve on the third floor was closed due to the ongoing renovation while it was closed a long time ago on the fourth floor due to the operation of the SSI.
He said the sprinklers could not spray water as the floor control valve was closed.
The task force found out also that the alarm system of the mall was not automatic and did not reach the fourth floor when it was sounded by the personnel of the NCCC, as the SSI’s alarm system was not connected with the mall’s, according to Candido.
The task force is composed of Department of Interior and Local Government, Bureau of Fire Protection, National Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice, and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group 11.
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